What would you do if the following tweet showed up in your Twitter timeline?!
This was exactly the dilemma I faced one evening in March. I could have ignored it, given that I am New York City based and not DC...or I could jump on this amazing opportunity and figure out everything later. Given that I'm writing this post, you know which option I went with.
I already had quite a bit of travel planned for this year and very little flexibility on dates. Thinking about how this could possibly work, I settled on a Thursday to Sunday trip. With this option however, I'd only have 36 hours on the ground once I accounted for travel time to and from Beijing.
Regardless, if I wanted to do this, I needed to decide quickly. Available flights were literally disappearing before my eyes as I tried to secure a booking on the American Airlines site. In the end though, I completed my purchase and received my booking confirmation a few minutes later. $450 Business Class tickets to Beijing. Score!
It was probably 15 - 20 minutes from seeing that tweet to having a completed booking. Something unplanned and completely random, but exciting! Acting fast also paid dividends because minutes later all the fares were gone...
Elated with my purchase, I posted this to Twitter later that night.
So... 36 hours in Beijing. That meant needing two hotel nights. Problem....meet solution. We had 2 free nights from Hyatt that we hadn't yet used for 2015. We called them up and minutes later had secured a room at the Grand Hyatt Beijing for a grand total of $0. This great deal was getting ever better!
The hotel was also pretty central which was very important given how little time there was available to explore Beijing.
Flights - check! Hotel - check!
Up next, securing a Chinese visa. This was actually a pretty painless process and took maybe an hour? Enough said.
Visa in hand, I now had to figure out how we'd get from NYC to DC on Thursday morning and then back on Sunday night. Flying seemed to make the most sense as we were going to be heading to the airport anyway. Yet another cost effective solution was available on that front as well.
We had an unused companion certificate from US Airways that allows you to buy a ticket to anywhere in the USA & Canada and then add up to 2 companions for only $99 each. NYC to DC probably wasn't the most effective use of this certificate but it served a need and still saved around $150 in airfare. Plus, I actually have another companion certificate left to use by the end of this year and I plan on thorougly maximizing the value on that one. More on that in a future post, I'm sure...
Now we were all set. We just sat back and waited 2 months for the trip to Beijing to begin!